Soldier Bear & Tumbleweed

Prairie Dogs

It was the usual story that started with a phone call from Animal Care and Control. Answering the phone when I see that ID always makes me hesitate. You never know what’s up. But since I’m current on all my dog and cat licenses ( I may be the only person on the earth with housecat licenses) I said a quiet “Hello….. this is Mollie….”

“Good Morning. This is Sergeant Guzman calling from the shelter in  Gardena.  Do you have Fish and Wildlife permits for prairie dogs? We have 2 confiscated pets.”

This time I didn’t hesitate. “Yes!!!!—we do. We have one prairie dog (our sweet Dandelion) and an empty enclosure next to her all ready for them. But I have to ask you a question….Are they nice?”

I asked this question because often times confiscated wild animals that have been kept illegally as pets aren’t handled properly and may tend to be shy, standoffish or just not all that crazy about people. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t care for them here at Wildworks but if they like people their lives and ours will be much more fun.  Plus, being a very social rodent, they will welcome the human species into their colony.   

“Yes—they are, they’re very nice.”

“Great! –Be right there.“

I loaded my crate and water and monkey chow ( the universal food) into the car and took off for the shelter.

As is the norm in animals shelters –which has to be one of the hardest jobs in the world—the staff was super nice. They escorted me into the cat room (no separate room for prairie dogs) where the two little frightened rodents were hiding in their cage behind shredded newspaper.

I said, “Do you have a glove?”  But as I reached in slowly with my gloved hand, instead of a bite I got a bark!

“Pleased to meet you. Are you here to take us to our Furever Home?”

As it turns out—even though their illegal owner is in jail for a different crime!—these two prairie dogs are the nicest animals I’ve ever met. So he was definitely good with his pets.

It’s a girl and a boy and they love each other and us.  And they can continue to be housed together because Prairie dogs rarely breed in captivity. In the wild they live in huge underground towns. The biggest town ever discovered was in the state of Texas and was the size of the state of Rhode Island! They need their huge social community to feel safe enough to have young so prairie dogs that somehow become pets are taken from the wild as pups. This valuable species help crops grow by aerating the soil with their tunnels and they prefer native prairie grasses to crops.  But, like so many wildlife species, they are considered pests and are still destroyed in vast numbers.

But our two little friends will spend their lifetimes with us!

We call the boy Soldier Bear-- named after a very special Lakota medicine man.  The girl is Tumbleweed because she was shy at first and liked to roll up in a ball.

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